Friday, November 07, 2014

This day in engineering history (a happier note this time)

Three years ago, I posted this message about an engineering disaster that happened on this day in 1940 when the Tacoma Narrows bridge collapsed. But I'd like to point to something positive today.

Today is also the anniversary of when the Canadian Transcontinental Railroad was completed. I saw it mentioned on the History Channel's "This Day in History Site" and here is the link to that story. Just as the first transcontinental railroad in the United States opened up our country for expansion, so did Canada's railroad. Yes, it brought problems as well as good but, for the country as a whole, it was good. Canada wouldn't be the great country it is today without this railroad.

Last year, we saw a wonderful IMAX film at the Boston Museum of Science titled Rocky Mountain Express. It's a documentary (the poster is shown at the right) that is partly about the history of the feat and also about the restored steam locomotive that was one of the last of its type to use that route. A lot of the scenes are shot from the train as it races through the beautiful Canadian Rockies. And with it being an IMAX movie, you feel like you're right there speeding along. If you get a chance to see this movie, do it. If you like trains, if you like history, if you like nature or if great engineering feats interest you, you will enjoy this movie.

Some of the final scenes are of the graves of the men who died building the railroad. It's sobering to be reminded that there is always a price to pay with human lives for any undertaking of this size.